|Studio album by|
|Released||March 24, 1992|
|Recorded||May 1991 – January 1992|
|En Vogue chronology|
|Singles from Funky Divas|
Funky Divas is the second studio album by American recording group En Vogue, released by Atlantic Records division EastWest on March 24, 1992 in the United States. Conceived after the success of their Grammy Award–nominated debut album Born to Sing (1990), En Vogue reteamed with their founders Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy to work on the entire album. As with Born to Sing, the pair borrowed from contemporary R&B, new jack swing, and hip hop, while also incorporating classic soul, blues and doo-wop elements, particularly on its on two Sparkle cover versions, as well as, in the case of "Free Your Mind," heavy metal sounds.
At the time of its release, Funky Divas received a mixed reception from music critics, but has since earned retrospective acclaim and recognition from musicians, and producers. Praised for En Vogue's vocal work and the production's definitive character, it is often cited to have paved the way for other female bands such as TLC and Destiny's Child who would emerge in the following years. The album became the quartet's second album to earn a Grammy Award nomination in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals category, while winning the American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album and the Sammy Davis Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year at the 1994 Soul Train Music Awards.
Funky Divas debuted at number one on the US Billboard Top R&B Albums chart, and at number eight on the Billboard 200, while peaking at number four on the UK Albums Chart. It reached triple platinum status in the US, where it sold 3.5 million copies, becoming the seventh highest-selling R&B albums of the year as well as En Vogue's biggest-selling album to date. The album spawned five singles, including "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)", Aretha Franklin cover "Giving Him Something He Can Feel", "Free Your Mind", "Give It Up, Turn It Loose," and "Love Don't Love You."
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Philadelphia Inquirer|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Funky Divas received mixed reviews from music critics, but has since earned retrospective acclaim. Parry Gettelman from The Orlando Sentinel complimented Foster & McElroy's production on the album. While somewhat critical with the slower songs, she wrote that "the pair has a knack for both melodies and killer grooves, and they're gifted, playful arrangers." With the performances, Gettelman found that "EnVogue interprets both the McElroy & Foster tracks and three covers with style, verve and a lot of soul." Los Angeles Times writer Connie Johnson that the album was "clearly groomed to offer a '90s slant to The Supremes' classy crossover image, En Vogue lifts ideas from James Brown and Aretha Franklin to create a sharper, more streetwise package." People magazine wrote that "En Vogue succeeds best at light danceable funk embroidered with soaring, swooping vocals. Maybe the album title promises a bit more than what’s delivered. But 'Spunky Hip-Hop Gals Who Can Sing Their Fannies Off' would have been just too long, we guess."
Arion Berger, writing for Entertainment Weekly, felt that Funky Divas "delivers flirtatious R&B set to a mechanized beat [...] The four sweet-voiced members of En Vogue are versatile enough to handle reggae-, gospel- and doo-wop-tinted dance music with game if not very deep enthusiasm. Still, Funky Divas has an awkward charm." In her uneven review for Rolling Stone journalist Danyel Smith wrote that "En Vogue come off, on Funky Divas, as voluptuously voiced and impeccably rehearsed as they did on their 1990 debut, Born to Sing. But the audacious production that outfitted Dawn, Terry, Cindy and Maxine has not found its way to 1992." He felt that "on the debut, the Sixties girl-group allusions were perfect enough to seem accidental, but this time they clunk around obviously and loudly, like there's a fifth woman in an ugly dress singing along with Maxine, Cindy, Dawn and Terry – and she's sadly off-key."
In his retrospective review, Allmusic editor Jose F. Promis wrote that "combining sass, elegance, and class with amazing vocals and perfect production, this delightful set stands as one of the 1990s definitive pop albums." He found that he album "is basically free of filler" and called it the "era's most diverse, dazzling, and exciting pieces of work." In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album 60th on its list of the 100 Best Albums of the '90s, while Complex magazine listed it 45th on its The 50 Best R&B Albums of the '90s listing in 2017. Complex editor Craig Jenkins stated that while "En Vogue's 1990 debut Born to Sing introduced Cindy, Dawn, Maxine, and Terry's throwback quartet-style harmonies to the world, the 1992 follow-up Funky Divas fashioned it into a weapon." He found that the album paved the way for other female bands such as TLC and Destiny's Child.
In the United States, Funky Divas debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 album chart and reached the top spot on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart with first week sales of 60,000 units. A major commercial success, it became one of the biggest-selling R&B albums of year, exceeding sales of more than 3.5 million copies domestically. It was eventually certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on March 24, 1993. Billboard ranked Funky Divas 25th on its Billboard 200 year-end chart, while ranking it seventh on the Top R&B Albums year-end chart. As of 2018, it remain En Vogue's highest-peaking album on both charts.
Internationally, Funky Divas reached the top forty of the national album charts in Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden. A steady seller, it sold more than 1.0 million copies in Canada and was eventually certified platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). The album reached its highest peak in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number four on the UK Albums Chart and reached gold statis, indicating sales in excess of 100,000 copies. With a worldwide sales total of 5 million, Funky Divas remains En Vogue's biggest seller within their discography.
The lead single, "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)", became an instant hit, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 on the UK Singles Chart. The accompanying video for "My Lovin'" won two MTV Video Music Awards. The song samples the funk guitar line of James Brown's 1973 song "The Payback" from the album of the same name.
The second single, "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" (a cover of the Aretha Franklin hit from the film Sparkle), also became a top ten hit on the US Hot 100 (and also their fifth number 1 single on the US R&B chart). Another Franklin song from Sparkle, "Hooked on Your Love", is also on the album, as is a rendition of The Beatles' hit "Yesterday".
The third single, the rock-infused "Free Your Mind", became another top ten hit. In the UK, the single made the top 20 and was backed with "Giving Him Something He Can Feel", which had failed to make the UK top 40 by itself earlier that year. The video for "Free Your Mind" won three MTV Video Music Awards in 1993.
By the time the fourth single, "Give It Up, Turn It Loose", was released in late 1992, the Funky Divas album was already certified triple platinum in the US by the RIAA. The single gave the group another UK Top 40 hit (No. 22).
The fifth and final single released from Funky Divas was "Love Don't Love You", which was remixed for its release. The video for the single consists of clips from previous En Vogue videos "Giving Him Something He Can Feel", "Free Your Mind", as well as two of their 1990 videos "Lies" and "You Don't Have to Worry".
A second edition of the album containing the later hits "Runaway Love" and "Whatta Man" (with Salt-N-Pepa) was released in the UK in 1994. This edition of Funky Divas also includes remixed versions of "Hip Hop Lover", "It Ain't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings", and "Love Don't Love You" (a different remix from the US single release in 1993), along with slightly altered artwork inside the CD booklet.
|1.||"This Is Your Life"||5:05|
|2.||"My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)"||4:42|
|3.||"Hip Hop Lover"||5:13|
|4.||"Free Your Mind"||4:52|
|6.||"Giving Him Something He Can Feel"||3:56|
|7.||"It Ain't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings"||4:13|
|8.||"Give It Up, Turn It Loose"||5:13|
|10.||"Hooked on Your Love"||3:35|
|11.||"Love Don't Love You"||3:56|
|12.||"What Is Love"||4:19|
Credits are taken from the album's liner notes.
- Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson – vocals
- Denzil Foster, Thomas McElroy – keyboards, drums
- Jinx Jones – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass
- Michael Fellows – drums
- Jon Bendich, Juan Escovedo, Peter Michael – percussion
- Chuckii Booker – spoken word
- Wayne Jackson – rap
- Tony George – trumpet
- Les Harris – saxophone
- Chris Mondt – trombone
- Denzil Foster, Thomas McElroy – production, arrangement
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||3× Platinum||4,416,000[a]|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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